India has always been a nation that has produced quality batsmen. Fans love the batting gods who go and break a plethora of records. However, to win a Test match you need 20 wickets to win. India's home record is something to envy. Since the turn of the century, India has only lost three Test series; one each to South Africa in 2000, Australia in 2004 and England in 2012.
However, India has never been able to consistently win matches overseas because they never had the luxury of a possessing a strong pace attack. India would rely on one or two bowlers to do the job. If they broke down in the middle of the tour due to excessive stress, Indian team management would be clueless.
In spite of these issues, there were some memorable bowling performances overseas especially in England, South Africa and Australia which resulted in memorable victories.
Let's remember 5 such forgotten bowling performances which made India proud.
#5 Chetan Sharma - 5/64 vs England, Lords - 1986
Chetan Sharma is remembered for as the man who famously got smacked by Javed Miandad in Sharjah when Pakistan needed 5 runs from 1 ball. Some ardent fans might also remember him as the first Indian bowler ever to pick up a hat-trick against New Zealand in the 1987 World Cup. But, Chetan Sharma was a decent fast-medium bowler who did a bit more in his career than the ones mentioned above.
India were playing England at Lords in the opening Test match and had no hesitation in bowling first on a typical English green seamer. Kapil Dev won the toss and decided to bowl, Chetan Sharma and Roger Binny bowled impressive spells and had England on the mat. Graham Gooch scored 114, but it was Sharma's 5/64 which razed out England for 294.
India scored 341 in their first innings and again bowled out England for a paltry 180 when Kapil Dev, Maninder Singh and Chetan Sharma shared the honours. India were given a target of 136 and they chased it down with 5 wickets to spare.
#4 Roger Binny - 5/40 vs England, Headingley - 1986
Roger Binny, who was India's first ever Anglo-Indian cricketer, was a fine bowler during his heydays. Because he had a British connection, he would usually bowl well in England and was instrumental in India's performance during the Prudential World Cup in 1983.
With India famously winning in Lords, the pressure was on England to deliver in Leeds. Kapil Dev was second time lucky as he won the toss and elected to bat. India scored 272, with Dilip Vengsarkar scoring a defiant 61 against a good English pace attack.
England, in their reply, were demolished by the Indian pacers with Roger Binny and Madan Lal leading the way. England were bowled out for 102 and the Indian duo of Binny and Lal shared 8 wickets between them. It was Binny's effort which helped India gain a massive lead of 170. India responded well with Vengsarkar scoring a classy hundred in the second innings setting England an impossible target of 408.
England continued from where they left and got bowled out for 128 with Binny, Kapil and Maninder Singh leading the way. India won the match by 279 runs and registered a memorable series victory against England in 1986.
#3 S Sreesanth - 5/40 vs South Africa, Johannesburg - 2006
Sreesanth is known in Indian cricket circles for all the wrong reasons. Whether it was his over-the-top celebrations, on-field antics or allegations, he has been a controversial character. If we overlooked all these aspects, he was a fine fast bowler for India who was part of two successful World Cup campaigns and quite a handful of Test victories overseas.
India were playing South Africa in Johannesburg on a pacy wicket with excessive bounce and had no hesitation in batting first. India's "Fab 4" all made useful contributions with Ganguly scoring an important 51 in his comeback Test match. India scored 249 in their first innings. However, it was India's bowling that really made the damage as far as South Africa were concerned.
Sreesanth and Zaheer Khan raced out South Africa's batting line-up for 84 in 25 overs. Sreesanth, in particular, was very impressive with his line and length and displayed a classic exhibition of out-swing bowling. India got a massive lead of 165 and added 236 in their second innings. Sreesanth famously got into a duel with Andre Nel and showed a few dancing moves after hitting him for a six in India's second innings.
Sreesanth was the wrecker-in-chief in the second innings with 3/59 with some assistance from Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble. India won the Test by 123 runs.
#2 Ajit Agarkar - 6/41 vs Australia, Adelaide - 2003
Ajit Agarkar was fine fast bowling prospect for India. He even held the world record for fastest to 50 wickets in ODI cricket. He had the ability to swing it both ways and bowled some impressive spells for India.
India were playing Australia in Adelaide after drawing the first Test in Brisbane in 2003. Australia won the toss and scored 556 with Ricky Ponting scoring 242, his 19th Test hundred. India in reply were 85 for 4, but it was Rahul Dravid's 233 and VVS Laxman's 148 that resurrected the innings. The duo shared a 303-run stand which helped India reach 523, giving Australia a slender lead of 33.
When it looked that the match would head towards a draw, Ajit Agarkar bowled the finest spell of his career picking up six wickets. He troubled the Aussie batsman with late in-swing and used the short delivery to good effect. Australia was bowled out for 196 and India chased down the target of 233 with ease earning a 4-wicket victory.
Adelaide 2003 will forever be remembered as a "Rahul Dravid classic", but we shouldn't forget that it was Agarkar's spell that eventually made the difference between a dull draw and a thumping victory.
#1 Kapil Dev - 5/28 vs Australia, Melbourne - 1981
Does this man even need an introduction? He was one of the finest all-rounders the game has ever seen. Kapil Dev was undoubtedly one of the trendsetters in Indian cricket. Whether it was his classical swing bowling or belligerent batting, he has done it all. Kapil's inspirational performances as a captain helped India win the Prudential World Cup in 1983.
When India played Australia in MCG, India were welcomed by a green pitch. Greg Chappell won the toss and asked India to bat. India could muster only 237 with GR Vishwanath scoring a classy 114. Australia responded strongly scoring 419 with Allan Border scoring an impressive 124. India had their backs against the wall with a deficit of 182.
India's batsmen played well in the second innings scoring 324 with Chetan Chauhan and captain Gavaskar scoring defiant fifties. Australia were asked to chase 143 and the news broke out that Kapil Dev had injured his thigh muscles. Kapil, however, took painkiller injections and the next day, he was ready for the challenge.
Karsan Ghavri provided the early breakthrough for India with the wickets of Jon Dyson and Greg Chappell. This opened up the floodgates for Kapil Dev who ran through the Australian batting line-up with accurate and consistent swing bowling. Australia were bowled out for 83 giving India their first victory in Australia by 59 runs.